Squats? Check. Deadlifts? Check. Reverse lunges? Check. Lateral lunge? What in all hell?!
That’s how I felt the first time I came across a lateral variation of lower body exercises, and I struggled. The lateral lunge can be tricky business due to the hip mobility demands, and the fact that we’d rather not fall on our keister. I’m pretty sure I looked like this the first time I tried to do them:
Lateral lunges are hard to do, and my first attempts weren’t very successful. In time I’ve learned to do them, but I seldom recommend it right away for most people. That’s fine though, because there exists another exercise, similar in nature, that can be a little more user friendly. You’d never have guessed from the title, but it’s the Lateral Squat. Here’s a body weight example from yours truly:
The squat is more user friendly than the lunge because you take out the landing part, aside from setting your feet at the beginning of the set. Once the lateral squat feels comfortable, you can then transition into a lateral lunge, if you’re so inclined, or translate the lateral squat into other aspects of your programming.
I suggest starting it as a mobility drill. Move slow, but with the purpose of increasing your hip/adductor mobility. A Google image search of lateral squats shows woefully high squats. Shoot that booty back and drop it like it’s hot:
Once you feel comfortable using the lateral squat as a mobility drill, you can begin using it as a strength exercise or as part of a conditioning circuit.
Anterior-loaded positions are more user-friendly, so Goblet, Clean-grip, and Zercher loadings will feel the best as you do these. If you’re using a barbell with a clean grip, please step back far enough so that the plates don’t clip the rack. In the video below, I’m using a 60lb sandbag:
Additionally, these work well as part of a squat or lunge matrix. Here’s an example from Brendon Rearick, which you can use as a quick warm-up or as a conditioning circuit.
Bottom line: Do Lateral Squatz. You can use them as part of warm-up to loosen up your hips, you can use them as a strength exercise to develop lateral strength, or you can implement them as a finisher to elevate your heart rate. When and where you do them, that’s up to you.
I just did a set while I write this because my hips feel tight. Now it’s your turn. Get it done.